Summary: The parable of the Ten Minas is a wonderful lesson for Christians and how to take advantage of opportunities to serve the Master, the resources He has given us and how we will be judged by our management of these gifts.
Use It or Lose It!
By Dr. David O. Dykes
One of my heroes is Billy Graham. Although he is in his mid 80s, and battling Parkinson’s disease, he is still preaching the gospel. In 1996, he and Ruth were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service to America. After the presentation, Dr. Graham was being interviewed by Diane Sawyer. In his inimitable way of always getting Jesus into his conversation he said, “Ruth and I are humbled by this award. But the only recognition I am looking forward to is when I stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. My greatest reward will be to hear Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
Perhaps you’ve heard that phrase before. It comes from the parable Jesus told in Luke 19. This is an interesting parable because it’s the only parable Jesus told that was based on an actual historical event. Before we read it, remember the context. Jesus had visited Jericho, healed a blind man, visited with Zacchaeus, and now He was heading toward Jerusalem. Jericho is 1,300 feet below sea level, the lowest city in the world, and Jerusalem in about 2,500 feet above sea level. This 20 mile road was an uphill climb in more ways than one because Jesus knew that within a week He would be arrested, tortured and crucified. Let’s read beginning in Luke 19:11:
While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas [King James Version “pounds” - a mina was 3 months’ wages] ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
He was made king however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.”
“The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
“‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
“His master answered, ‘you take charge of five cities.’”
“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I cam back, I could have collected it with interest?’
“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!
He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
Studying a parable of Jesus is like peeling an onion. There are several layers of meaning and application. This parable has an extra skin because this event really happened. So, let’s peel the onion and get down to the core of what God is trying to say to us.
I. THE HISTORICAL MEANING
In 4 B.C. Archelaus (son of Herod the Great) traveled to Rome to be crowned ruler of Judea. Herod the Great wasn’t so great. He gave himself that title because he was such a great builder. Herod was the one who directed the magi to go to Bethlehem to worship the newborn king, and then to bring word back to him so he could go worship also. But we know Herod was so jealous he actually wanted to kill the Child. When the magi returned without reporting to him, Herod ordered all the boy babies in that region under the age of two be killed. He was Herod the Great Murderer.
When Herod died, there was confusion over his will (he had written six of them). Both Antipas and Archelaus claimed the throne. So, as in the parable Jesus told, Archelaus traveled to Rome to have Caesar Augustus confirm him as ruler. The Jews were outraged with the prospect of Archelaus because he was as brutal as his father. They sent an official delegation of 50 of the leading Jews to Rome to oppose Archelaus as ruler.